Turn Repeatedly to “Inspired Declarations” from General Conference

Contributed By the Church News

  • 2 April 2016

“I encourage you to read the [general conference] talks once again and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth." —President Thomas S. Monson

Article Highlights

  • Read and ponder general conference talks throughout the year for increased guidance from the Lord.
  • Take time to access general conference talks through the abundance of multimedia resources available today.

“If an Apostle will go through twelve to fifteen drafts, is it pleasing to the Lord if I listen to or read his message one or two times? I don’t think so.” —Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Nearly a half-century ago, then-President Harold B. Lee concluded the Church’s October 1973 general conference with a message similar to themes expressed both before and since.

“Now, you Latter-day Saints,” President Lee said, “I think you have never attended a conference where in this last three days you have heard more inspired declarations on most every subject and problem about which you have been worrying. If you want to know what the Lord would have the Saints know and to have His guidance and direction for the next six months, get a copy of the proceedings of this conference, and you will have the latest word of the Lord as far as the Saints are concerned.”

Back then, “a copy of the proceedings” was very limited, certainly when compared to today’s standards. Newspapers—including the Deseret News and the Church News—provided summaries of general conference addresses as promptly as possible.

Complete transcripts of the conference messages then were available in two key Church publications—both of them struggling with turn-around time. Talks from that same October 1973 conference weren’t published until the January 1974 issue of the Ensign, the Church magazine still in its infancy. And the talks were published in book form in the soft-cover offering referred to as Conference Report, with this volume specifically titled 143rd Semi-Annual Conference October 1973. The first edition of this volume—in English, with other languages to follow in different publications and compilations—was printed later in 1973 but took time for Church distribution to leaders and meetinghouses.

Proceedings of that October 1973 general conference also were broadcast for listeners and viewers, with the reach certainly limited to the radio and television signals and equipment of the day. Conference priesthood sessions in the 1970s were broadcast throughout North America via closed-circuit telephone lines, with the audio feed patched into meetinghouse chapels so attendees could listen to live transmission of the talks.

All of this was long before the advent of satellite transmission, cable systems, digital recordings, and the Internet (the medium many of you are now using to read these very words).

By comparison, consider all the media available for the April 2016 sessions of general conference. Printed newspapers—again including the Church News—provide summaries in the very next publication. Full transcripts are available again in the Ensign—for many years they have been published in the next month’s edition rather than several months later.

Electronic conference coverage includes not just audio on radio and audio and visuals on TV, but digital transmissions via satellite, cable, and the Internet—with digital recordings available on CD and DVD and in MP3 and MP4 formats. And on LDS.org, the complete texts, audio, and hi-def video files are posted and available by midweek after each general conference.

So many media. So many ways to access the conference messages. Endless are the ways and means to make them part of our daily lives—during personal study time, family time, down time, travel time, exercise time, or free time.

Said President Howard W. Hunter in one of his October 1994 conference addresses: “As I have pondered the messages of the conference, I have asked myself this question: How can I help others partake of the goodness and blessings of our Heavenly Father? The answer lies in following the direction received from those we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, and others of the General Authorities. Let us study their words, spoken under the Spirit of inspiration, and refer to them often.”

And Elder Neil L. Andersen, as a member of the Seventy and prior to his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, underscored the importance of turning to conference talks with increased frequency. Two decades ago, he wrote the following for the April 1996 Ensign:

“Viewing the general conference sessions with our family is not sufficient to bring a love for the prophets.

“On one occasion some years before my call as a General Authority, I conducted a meeting presided over by one of the Apostles. After the meeting, I asked him about his stake conference talks.

“‘Do you prepare something specific for each stake conference?’ I asked.

“He replied that he generally did not, but relied on the promptings received just prior to and during the conference.

“But then he added, ‘But my general conference talk is very different. I will normally go through twelve to fifteen drafts to be certain that it is what the Lord would have me say.’

“Many times since then I have asked myself, ‘If an Apostle will go through twelve to fifteen drafts, is it pleasing to the Lord if I listen to or read his message one or two times? I don’t think so.’”

With all the media now available, Latter-day Saints can—and should—engage in the inspired messages more than just two conference weekends a year. Latter-day Saints can turn to conference talks repeatedly for direction, inspiration, and assurance.